Phoenix: Kurt Johnson preview

Kurt Johnson Looks to Adapt, Improvise and Overcome in Phoenix ACDelco Racing team makes adjustments to prepare for tricky Firebird Raceway track Sugar Hill, Ga., March 3, 2004 - Following the first race of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing ...

Kurt Johnson Looks to Adapt, Improvise and Overcome in Phoenix
ACDelco Racing team makes adjustments to prepare for tricky Firebird Raceway track

Sugar Hill, Ga., March 3, 2004 - Following the first race of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, Kurt Johnson already has several ideas on how to make his ACDelco Cavalier even faster than it already is. Unfortunately, due to the one-week postponement of the season-opening event in Pomona, the majority of these modifications will have to wait until the team returns to its Sugar Hill, GA headquarters after this weekend's Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in Phoenix, AZ.

However, with another tough Pro Stock field expected at Firebird Raceway Johnson and his talented crew have formulated an alternative plan on how to improve not only their race car, but also their chances for success.

"Our ACDelco Cavalier may not be the fastest car out there, but it's not bad considering how new and relatively untested it is," stated Johnson. "We never made what I would consider a perfect run in Pomona, and we still qualified second and made it the semi-finals. We might have gone even further if we had lane choice on that last run.

"The biggest thing we need right now, and can't have, is track time. For example, we have some chassis components I'd like to try out to make it quicker in the first 330 feet, but that will have to wait until after this weekend. Once we get home, we'll do some serious flogging on the racetrack. For now, we'll make a few adjustments, tweaking the car here and there to make it better for this weekend."

As if the challenge of besting over thirty other hungry competitors while adapting to their new race car is not enough, the ACDelco crew will also have to find a way to tame the tricky racing surface at Firebird Raceway. Armed with information gathered during a test session last week at a nearby facility, KJ and company are confident they are prepared for whatever is thrown at them.

"I'm actually looking forward to racing at Firebird Raceway, simply because when we tested at the Speedworld Motorplex last week, conditions were very similar to what we will encounter this weekend," said Johnson. "Therefore, we should be able to apply the experience and the notes from Whitman (where the Speedworld Motorplex is located) to our set-up in Phoenix.

"The key this weekend will be a driver's ability to maintain control going over the various bumps on the track. It will also be important for the tuner to smooth things out for when the car encounters the various moguls, rattlesnakes and lizards you invariably run into out there.

"Our main concern on Friday will be making sure we make two good A to B runs, which should put us in the top half of the field. Having lane choice will be critical on Sunday, because Firebird usually turns into a one-lane racetrack. It will definitely be a challenge, but I believe this ACDelco crew is more than up to it."

KJ's Comments

On chasing the POWERade championship:

"Greg (Anderson) has raised the bar - now it's up to us to raise it even further. We're not going to concern ourselves with what he's up to - that's a waste of time. Instead, we will focus on making sure we gain every advantage possible, from running quicker to maintaining lane choice, no matter who is in the other lane.

"There were instances a year ago where a few thousandths would have made the difference, which could be attributed to something as simple as being in the wrong lane. Our goal this year is to turn those little details around and have them work in our favor."

On improving his ACDelco Cavalier:

"I have several different ideas that I want to attack once we get back to the shop. We're going to camp out at Atlanta Dragway finding ways to make our ACDelco Cavalier even quicker. It's one thing to find something on the dyno, it's another thing altogether to make that same improvement on the racetrack, which is our top priority."

Facts on Kurt Johnson and the ACDelco Racing Team entering the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals:

* KJ at Firebird Raceway: This will be Kurt's 12th appearance at Firebird Raceway, where he has one win in 1999, and a 14-10 elimination round record.

* One year ago: Kurt qualified fourth with a time of 6.841 seconds and a top speed of 202.24, and advanced to the quarterfinals.

* Firebird Track Record Holder: KJ holds the Firebird Raceway Pro Stock top speed record at 202.30 mph, which he set during eliminations one year ago.

* Winning percentage: Kurt's .643 elimination round winning percentage (349-194) ranks 11th among all active NHRA professional drivers.

* National event wins: Kurt's 27 national event victories ties him for 14th on the all-time NHRA professional win list, and place him fifth on the all-time Pro Stock win list. Kurt's most recent win came last June at the Lucas Oil Nationals in Joliet, IL.

* Career best elapsed time: 6.716 seconds, Englishtown, NJ. 2003

* Career best top speed: 206.61 mph, Englishtown, NJ. 2003


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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson